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Point Park University's Playhouse Jr. breaths life into 'Nate' and 'Pinkalicious'

| Wednesday, May 3, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
J.Altdorfer Photography
Ian Kelso (from left), Kayla Muldoon, Elise Dorsey in 'Pinkalicious The Musical’
J.Altdorfer Photography
Claire Stoller (from left), Wesley Ehle, and Lisa Naso in 'Nate the Great'

Two popular but very different children's books series offer two very different theater adaptations.

One is a kid-focused detective story. The other is a musical about a girl in love with all things pink. Both are entertaining, full of laughs and priced right to be able to afford to see both over the next three weeks. And with a run time of about 45 to 60 minutes each, the squirm factor is minimal.

“The Adventures of Nate the Great” and “Pinkalicious The Musical” are produced by Point Park University's Playhouse Jr. They run on weekends from May 6 to 21 at Pittsburgh Playhouse in Oakland.

Point Park theater students play the characters, channeling their inner children.

“Going into the process as a director, I was a little bit nervous about having these college-age students playing small children,” says Kelly Trumbull, director of “Nate the Great.” “But it's brought them a great sense of playfulness with the production. They've just sort of reconfigured their brains to work like they did when they were kids.”

Kids in the audience might get an extra buzz out of the silliness of grownups playing children. Two of them even play dogs — Sludge and Fang — in “Nate.”

Nate is an 8-year-old boy detective, upon whom neighborhood kids rely to logically solve a variety of mysteries.

“The cases are funny,” Trumbull says. “There is a Smartest Pet Contest prize he is looking for, a lost picture of a dog, a cat — which is actually a cat puppet. All the cases are comedic, but it is definitely a mystery for elementary school children.”

The theme and tone of “Pinkalicious” is completely “confectious,” says director April Daras.

“ ‘Pinkalicious' is a really fun, joyful musical about a little girl who loves the color pink,” she says. Her mom makes pink cupcakes and the little girl eats way too many. When she wakes up the next morning, she is pink from head to toe.

“Her name really is Pinkalicious, so she was sort of set up by her parents,” Daras says with a laugh. “She loves being pink, but she discovers there is some danger in excess. So that's one of the lessons of the play.”

“The music is super catchy,” Daras says. “It makes you want to move. It sticks in your brain. I wake up every morning and I have one of those songs in my head.”

Whichever play you choose to see, head to the website and click on the study guide. Each play has a word search, theater etiquette tips and coloring activities you can print out.

Sally Quinn is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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